Whats good PT peeps?
Your friendly neighbourhood fashionista here dipping back through for another one and this week we’re talking all things sneakers. No matter what part of the world you reside in and whatever synonym you use (kicks, creps, trainers, runners, brógs, Shoes, etc.) it’s undeniable that sneaker culture has always been at the forefront of streetwear fashion, arguably never more so than today with the rise of social media’s ‘hype’ culture. With goliaths Nike and Adidas rising to stratospheric heights of market share it is proving increasingly difficult for any of the less prominent competitors to gain any substantial traction in today’s already overcrowded marketplace. But has this shared spot atop the shoe podium been earned by the big boys or is it simply a bi-product of having the biggest marketing budgets at their disposal? Well let’s talk about that.
If one was to consider ‘years trading’ as something that was worthy of merit then a list of brands by their age would actually yield quite a few surprises. Reebok (1958), Adidas(1949), Nike(1964), New Balance(1906), Fila (1911), Palladium (1947), Converse (1908), K-Swiss(1966), Vans (1966), Puma(1948), not quite reflecting the sales figures right? Based on age evidently not being a determinent factor for success then what are we to sight instead? Superior business strategy? More innovative design teams? Or just good old fashioned marketing? My money is on the latter. And more often than not when marketing is a key driver of a businesses’ success this relies heavily on the notion of ‘True value Vs. Perceived value’. To give a topical example of this principal take the currently trending doughnut. Now if I were to buy two identical plain doughnuts for 20c a piece and I was to sell one in a white paper bag and sell the other in a neatly assembled mini cardboard box that cost 2c each when bought in bulk, which doughnut am I more likely to achieve a higher retail price for? That flashy box is an extra 10%+ every time. Now swap the doughnuts back out for Sneakers and now you kinda what I’m saying? No? That’s cool, I brought some examples.
First up Puma X Fenty and DC Trase Platform. Both pretty fly right? Well I think so anyway. This style cropped up quite a bit over the last few seasons particularly following Puma’s enlisting of non-other than Rihanna as an official ambassador. Offering a very cool crossover of a classic lo-pro sneaker with the added height that comes with a platform Shoe these have definitely been a popular style since their recent resurgence. Price difference between each brand? The Pumas coming in at nearly double the DCs! Whether there is double the value in one versus the others is a matter for subjective opinion but personally, I’m unconvinced.
Stepping up for some scrutiny next is the uber popular Nike Hurrache and the Palladium Desvilles. Both coming in strong block colourways, employing the popular hi-sock knit shape as well as a multi-textile upper, giving a furturistic vibe to both kicks. If your anyway ‘down with the kids’ there’s no prizes for guessing which recorded better sales, in spite of the 1.5x price difference separating the two. Now I’m a sneaker head through and through and I endorse the hurrache but could you really say it’s shape and design is that much superior to its competitor?
I guess it wouldn’t be right to talk about sneakers without the words ‘Air Max’ being mentioned. The Shoe that can arguably be accredited with changing the game as we know it, the Nike Air Max 1 up against the DC Heathrow IA TX. Now there is no debate in which Shoe is the innovator here but that innovation does come at a cost with the Air Max trumping the DC price-wise on every occasion. This model of DC’s Heathrow is their highest price-point shoe at €140 integrating just about every bell & whistle they could manage. In comparison €140 would be considered a base price for an entry level pair of airmax. I realise I may be presenting somewhat of a bias throughout these comparisons but bare with me, just trying to spark a discussion here.
Moving swiftly on to an iconic ladies’ sneaker, the Adidas Superstar vs K-Swiss Court Frasco. This classic court shoe style has been relatively timeless in terms of popularity however the Superstar did experience a recent spike over the last year or two, making its way onto the feet of most adolescent girls at some stage. K-Swiss’ version however, despite being near on in disguisable, received no where near the popularity of it’s three-stripped counterpart. Apparently those extra two stripes make all the difference it would seem. Coming in at very similar price points, surely the appeal of owning something different to the rest of the mainstream crowd would of seen the Court Frasco achieve some positive traction?! I’ll save the argument of all of us dressing the same for another day.
Last but by absolutely no means least is possiby my favourite argument for brand versus substance. Now if you ever used Instagram before or have maybe ventured on the World Wide Web once upon a time you might be familiar with the term ‘Yeezy’. That’s right folks, the fashion brainchild of none other than Mr. Kanye West. Kanye has very arguably changed the game when it comes to celebrity fashion lines, seeing both his clothing and footwear lines soar to meteoric levels of hype, creating a whirlwind only comparable to that of the iconic ‘Jordan’ brand that preceded it. Although one could sight a plethora of reasons for the brands continued success, one undeniable factor is thoften contentious nature of the items actual aesthetic appearance, operating in a somewhat unexplored middle-ground of being highly futuristic whilst simultaneously shabby and outlandish on occasion. But how original even are the styles Kanye receives to much acclaim for? (See graphic above). I very legitimately believe that were the branding to be blurred out and these four boots placed in a random line-up, even your thirstiest hype-beast would struggle to discern Yeezy from….(cue drumroll)…..Palladium Boots! A company that has in fact been producing this same style of boot since 1947 as mentioned earlier in the piece. So it seems Kanye’s creative genius doesn’t just end at sampling on beats and records, but also also sampling classic Shoe designs.
So in closing, what are we buying? An idea, style, shape, straucture or appearance? Or are we far more shallow in buying whatever label currently inhabits the limelight, irrecspecitive of its aesthetic and functionality? Don’t fret, there’s no right or wrong answer to this fashion enigma. More simply just some food for thought next you passively disregard something based on it not having three stripes or a swoosh stitched on the side. Each one these brands have teams upon teams worth of designers and conceptual artists all vying to produce the next hot sneaker so perhaps next time your in the market for a fresh pair of kicks judge a shoe based off its individual merit, accounting for style, substance, functionality and comfort rather than your group of peers approving your new Nike Roshes (look at how that went for all you Roshe wearers, lol).
As always this is nothing more than my humble and moderatdly educated opinion. Feel free to call me on my BS and we can have a lovely eye-opening conversation regarding all things sneakers, branding and societal conforming. Until next time,
peace and love,